The Agritourism first ever consultation meeting with key stakeholders was commenced on the 20th February and led by the Kiribati National Tourism Office (KNTO) under the Ministry of Information, Communications, Transport and Tourism Development (MICTTD).
Key stakeholders are Tourism Operators together with the Ministry of Environments, Lands and Agriculture Development – Agriculture Division, Quality Promotion Unit and Trade Promotions Division from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives. Other key partner were also invited such as Business Promotion Unit, Active farmers, farmers associations, Nutrition Unit from the Ministry of Health, Kiribati Organic Producers and the Taiwan Technical Mission who were not able to attend the meeting.
The term “agri-tourism” is often used to refer to any tourism activity occurring in rural areas where agricultural production and farming occur, including farmers markets, agricultural fairs, and culinary tourism (food festivals or harvest celebration events). For example in Kiribati, the Food day is usually celebrated and coordinated by the Agriculture sector and this is what the tourism industry can turn into an attraction where all agricultural producers as well as fishery sellers get to display and sell their produces.
Agritourism development can fill this gap between local agricultural products and hotels. It can also provide a solution to unemployment where youths are trained and engaged in small scale farming and business that can generate income and a better lifestyle. Kiribati has a high population of unemployed youth and if agritourism is successfully and sustainably developed, implemented and promoted, the youth in Kiribati can engage, farm and make business out of it through fruit and vegetable sales, valued added products from their farms like handicraft, flowers and many more that can be supplied to the hotels and to the general public. This new concept can also be a possible solution to NCDs. If agritourism is promoted successfully, locals will be inspired and attracted with how their small farm can generate them revenue and at the same time eat a balance diet.
The main purpose of the stakeholders meeting is to formally introduce this new concept to the tourism operators and agriculture organic producers/farmers. The KNTO gladly shared what agritourism is all about and how the tourism industry and agriculture sector can both supply each other and benefit from each other. Among the tourism operators is Uaai Island Getaway who get to share one of their services that is inline to the main objective of this Agritourism concept. Their service focus on buying locally grown organic agricultural produce from local farmers around Kiribati and sell it to the general public. Trade Promotions Division from MCIC also inform stakeholders especially the KNTO which is leading this project that their ministry is finalizing the Open Integrated Market that will facilitate local agricultural producers and other local valued added products to sell their products in this market. MCIC highly supported agritourism and confirmed that the Open Integrated Market project is very much in line with the set objective for agritourism to strengthen the linkages between the two sectors of tourism and agriculture and how it will benefits each other.
The next consultation meeting will establish Agritourism Secretariat/committee that will oversee and plan future development projects that promote agritourism in Kiribati. The committee members will be active farmers, farmers association, tourism operators, Kiribati National Tourism Office, Kiribati Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine and Resource Development, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agriculture Development.